Artist of the Week: Spencer Stucky

Spencer Stucky graduated from the University of Oregon in 2011 with a BFA in photography. During his time at school he was in numerous group and solo shows and released several books under the publishing collective QUOIN. Spencer was born in San Francisco in 1987. He currently lives in Chicago, Illinois and is enrolled in the Photography MFA program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I was born in San Francisco, California, and lived there for a while before we moved on over to Oakland. I received a BA in Art History and a BFA in photography from the University of Oregon, where I worked at (and was wildly excited by) Ditch Projects. After undergrad, I moved back to Oakland and worked with Lower Bottom Gallery for about two years before moving to Chicago for SAIC’s MFA photo program. My practice currently calls on a wide range of disciplines, from photography to sculpture and drawing. Right now I am investigating the intersection of architectures, bodies, and nature. Also, I really like burritos.

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How did your interest in art begin? Oh man, well, in the spirit of transparency, I will admit, it was skateboarding. I was really into skating when I was in my early teens. I would shoot skate photos of my friends, and eventually the camera started turning to what was happening on the periphery. I remember seeing work by Ed Templeton and Mark Gonzales in Thrasher and being floored. After school darkroom classes and a healthy obsession followed.

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Tell us about your work process and how it develops? I usually start with an interest based on an experience, document, or object that I have found, and then try to examine why I was initially engaged. What makes _______ interesting? What is the history of ______ and how does that fit into a larger political, cultural, and historical lineage? I spend a great deal of my time researching and trying to answer these questions. Usually, I find the resolutions to any kind of formal decisions during the research process.

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What were you like in high school? A skate rat.

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What are you reading right now? Donna Harraway’s When Species Meet, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, Meeting the Universe Halfway by Karen Barad, Modernity unbound: Other Histories of Architectural Modernity by Detlef Mertins, the Are you working Too Much? Post-Fordisim, Precarity, and the Labor of Art e-flux journal, and Skymall.

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What’s your absolute favorite place in the city/the world to be? During the winter, in Chicago, I would have to say the Lincoln Park Conservatory (although I haven’t gone yet this season). It is a beautiful victorian steel and glass greenhouse in Lincoln Park that dates back to 1877. The conservatory has a fantastic collection of tropical plants, including hundreds of orchid and fern varieties. Imagine walking in out of sub-freezing temperatures into a humid and 80 degree tropical paradise with a glass dome roof. It’s like a mini vacation.

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Who is your ideal studio mate? Probably Matsuoka Shuzo

What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I am currently finishing a project about the Paimio Sanitorium in Paimio, Finland. The work surrounds the use of the site and the architecture as a focusing apparatus for natural phenomena such as light, air, and vegetation for healing purposes. I also am making photographs and video work about a Chicago Police dog and motion capture technology. Besides these concrete projects, I have a few things floating around my head connecting a Swedish lightbulb factory, Trisha Brown, and photographs of swimsuits from the Nordiska museet archive, but I have no idea what will come of these. I’m also trying to get my act together and finally make some collaborative work with Steven Vainberg; a zine might be forthcoming.

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If you were a drink what drink would you be? A Hamm’s.